“Bell Hammers” by Lancelot Schaubert is a humorous take on the life of the people living in Little Egypt, Illinois. He has written about people who don’t get written about often, thus bringing a fairly uncommon perspective into the mainstream.
The plot of the book is a collection of stories spanning several decades. The stories themselves are funny and entertaining with an ability to captivate the reader. Hilarious yet poignant at times, the reader in me could feel the pain of the people of the region through the lead character and his family. It also left me laughing on the bus on my way to work.
The whole story-line is aimed at relaying the power of a good prank. The plot also touches upon the unlimited corporate greed that has led us to where we are today, on an Earth with serious issues like global warming and climate change. Sadly, much hasn’t changed in terms of greediness, and this is a matter of serious reflection.
The main character, Wilson Remus Broganer, is a happy-go-lucky fellow. He is a wholesome character in the sense that the plot covers his entire life, starting from his childhood, and bringing us along the ride through his adulthood, marriage, fatherhood, all the way till he is a grandfather.
The other characters are also easy to bond with. They are all realistic and relatable.
Narration and writing
The book is narrated by one of the grandson’s of our protagonist, one who is actually born at a much later part in the book.
The book is an excellent piece of writing. The writing style reminds me of Mark Twain’s works. It is sardonic at times, taking a sarcastic tone and mocking the reader while delivering an important piece of the story at the same time.
It is a fairly easy read, yet gets difficult at times owing to the use of slangs local to southern Illinois. The first half is well paced. It gets slower in the second half, but gains speed as the major prank unfolds.
Quotes worth mentioning
On the power of a good prank:
“Best part about throwing jokes and pranking tyrants is that there ain’t no consequences for a good joke, and yet they change people’s minds.”
On sales and money spent:
“You only save money if you save it, boy, not if you spend it. No sale is worth spending money you don’t have.”
Disclaimer: Thanks to Lancelot Schaubert, the author and the publisher, for the e-ARC.